The University of Texas at Dallas began its reaffirmation process (aka self study) in early 2006 in an effort to continue its status as accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. This accreditation serves as a “gold standard” for universities—a recognition that the university meets certain criteria most often associated with effective universities that exhibit a high degree of institutional effectiveness and integrity. UTD was last reaccredited in 1998 by SACS and also holds accreditations from the AACSB, ABET, ACS, and others.
The SACS Reaffirmation Process can seem fairly simple on the surface. The specifically required submissions include a Compliance Certification for each of the Principles of Accreditation, along with documentation in support of the level of compliance, and a QEP proposal. That simplistic view of the process belies thousands of hours of intensive work. Such a view also ignores the very real importance of the process: The SACS reaffirmation process requires that an institution (UTD) examine every aspect of its operation.
This self-examination was once a relatively simple task in that prior accreditation reviews required compliance with a series of “must statements.” These were objective measures to which the answer was often a simple “yes” or “no.” The new reaffirmation process provides less objective criteria and focuses more on less specific goals of integrity, success, good educational practice, and similar ideals. As a result, the range of answers has increased from the “yes” and “no” to now include a “partial compliance” response. Within this new paradigm, supporting documentation is required to provide the degree to which compliance is actually achieved.
Within the Compliance Certification Reports (see top block above), you’ll find references to the work of the various committees. Reaffirmation of accreditation requires considerable work on the part of an institution. In UTD’s case, this process required the hands-on labor of nearly 300 committee members who reviewed and documented the policies, procedures, and processes for virtually every facet of the university’s operations.
As an interested party in the future of UTD, you are invited to peruse this website but also to read and participate in the SACS Project blog (http://sacs.utdallas.edu/blog) as a way of getting a feel for how the teams worked and what obstacles they met along the way.
Link to Southern Association of Colleges Website, Link to SACS Principles